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After school program owner facing three charges of indecent liberties with a child

READ MORE: After school program owner facing three charges of indecent liberties with a child
The owner of a New Hanover County after-school karate program is behind bars, charged with indecent liberties with children. John Maisenhelder made his first appearance in a New Hanover County courtroom today. He's charged with three counts of indecent liberties with a child. According to the District Attorney's Office, the charges involve three separate victims from an after school center Maisenhelder owns, a place where he taught karate to kids. A teacher, a pastor and a friend, John Maisenhelder seems like an unlikely suspect for the charges he faces. Three counts of indecent liberties, involving three different children at the Creative After School Training program, or CAST. Maisenhelder has owned CAST for ten years, and taught karate there. He is blackbelt. He also holds a degree from a theological seminary, and once served as a pastor. Maisenhelder's Defense Attorney Woody White told us he was a pastor at Southside Baptist Church. Church members tell WWAY he was not a pastor there, but was a church member. Employees at CAST were instructed not to speak with the media, but the day after Maisenhelder's arrest, children did attend the after school program. According to the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office, both Maisenhelder's home, and the CAST center were searched before the arrest. His defense attorney, Woody White, issued this statement to WWAY: “Presently, John, his wife, his daughter, family and many friends are shocked over the allegations of the last 24 hours. They have fully cooperated with the authorities, and respect the investigative process, while also, unequivocally, asserting John's innocence.” WWAY spoke with John Maisenhelder's wife. She did not want to appear on camera but said her husband was innocent. In court, John Maisenhelder's bond was cut in half, from $1 million to $500,000. He has no prior record. His after school program is still open. It currently has 42 children enrolled. Law enforcement has notified the parents of Maisenhelder's arrest and subsequent charges. The District Attorney's Office is concerned that news of the charges against Maisenhelder will bring more allegations from current and former students.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.


Rest In Peace

R.I.P J.M. You will be missed.

The accusers should have their names made public

if he is exonerated. Then they can have their reputations (with possible ulterior motives for maligning such an apparently saintly individual) dragged through the mud for the rest of their lives. An eye for an eye.

Name is an interesting point

Jon David is the prosecutor most notoriously involved in getting 'certain well known' names in the news at certain times that political news publicity would be advantageous to him. With seeing now that John Maisenhelder was also named "John David" Maisenhelder, that may have been a possible motive for the timing and the unfounded accusations. Release the video, John Maisenhelder has died, release the video Sheriff.

All, I recognize the

All, I recognize the severity of the charges here and view child molestation as the most despicable act possible, especially from a person in whom children have placed their innocent trust as a teacher or mentor. Though an emotionally charged topic, I'd like to ask if we may allow to process to return a verdict before declaring our own. It appears that the authorities found something to act on to stop the interaction with children until more can be understood as to any criminal action. I'm sure there will be a prosecution if need be. Likewise, I hope there will be apology en mass if not. I trained with John for approximately 4 years, 2-4 days a week, 3-5 hours per day in the adult/advanced class. My age through this time frame was 25-29 years old. During this time he was professional, respectful, composed, and good humored. Karate is an extremely interpersonal, physical practice and many things could appear inappropriate or abusive if taken out of context. As I rose through the ranks I helped train others, including children in the early classes when it was crowded. I've never seen such happy and focused kids and beaming proud parents. And who did they all love for it - John. John's decades of dedication, hard work, patience, and honesty has brought joy to many. His honesty and lack of will to stray from his values could have made a few enemies through those decades yet he was accused of nothing but being one of the best men most had ever met. Accepted we do not know what lies deep in the hearts of men, no matter how much you think you know someone. Surprises happened ever day with people you think you know. But let us pause our judgment and give this man his day in court. Moreover, if he's done wrong he'll pay his debt; if he's innocent will you? (Note: Over my fours years of training in John's dojo I never paid a single dollar, not one. I didn't have the money. In turn John accepted my respectful dedication to martial arts and my fellow students instead.)

John Maisenhelder

I have known John Mainsenhelder for 16 years having met him when I was attending UNCW. I started training under him in at his dojo and in time became not only a student but a friend. The charges being weighed against John are inconceivable to me. I stand by this man who I have know almost half my life and is like a father to me in many ways. He is a good man, giving to a fault, loving and attentive to his family. His contribution to his community is something we should all look to for inspiration. Media reporting on the charges being presented is typically incomplete. He is being portrayed as a villain, as a monster of some sort to be caged. He is none of these things. He has devoted his life to helping others, his success with his after school program only seek to demonstrate the depth of his desire to offer aid and improve the lives his his clients, both the families and the children who attend CAST. It is my hope that when John is cleared of these charges, that all the people who spoke against him stand up as tall as they are now with their righteous indignation with heartfelt apologies.


i have known john for about 10 years. i was in his afterschool program. also i have studied martial arts under him for 7 years and earned my black belt. i owe my life to him. he has helped me straighten up my life and get on track. he is a wonderful and great man with no prior record. i am sorry for him and his family for the stress that they are going through for this.

Innocent in all ways...

We have known this man for 10+ years. He has been there for our family and always has been. The media is only reporting the bad and negative, it is being played up as guilty until proven innocent. That is not how it should be, it should be innocent until proven guilty. I know that he would never do what is being accused of him, and I can only pray that the truth will come out.

I would like to urge

I would like to urge everyone to PLEASE keep an open mind about this... As parents of children at CAST, we are not able to comment on what we know - which isn't much - to keep the investigation from being tainted in any way, shape, or form. If John is guilty (despite how so many of us in the community feel about this) then he needs to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. It is extremely hard to believe that John, of all people, is capable of hurting any child who has been under his care - but unfortunately it really CAN be true. Sometimes it is the least likely person in a community who commits the most atrocious crime - robbing a child of his/her innocence... Obviously our main concern is for our own children, those who are victims and their families, all of the children at CAST and their families and finally for the Maisenhelder family. Nothing about this is easy - our worlds were turned upside down with one phone call and we're all scrambling trying to figure it all out, get help for our children as well as summer childcare... It is all very, very sad and unfortunate.

John did you keep an open

John did you keep an open mind for Micheal Jackson!!!!!!!

After school care

It is just unreal how so many think and say Oh this is not true, and please leave him alone, and on and on...Of course the investigators have done their work and still are. They obviously have information that is substantial and that is why he got arrested and put under a 1 million dollar bail. Thank you to them and it is a good thing he is not around kids anymore.

You have no idea what you

You have no idea what you are saying. I have known the man for at least 6 years and he has never done anything that has caught my attention or concern. So i firmly believe that he did not do anything wrong. I say what many others have previously said... he is innovent until proven guilty.

Allegations are just that: allegations

I personally know Shihan Maisenhelder, and I refuse to believe the allegations unless provided with undeniable proof of the same. John is a high ranking martial artist who by the very nature of being a martial artist comports himself along the lines of the 20 precepts and the 8 fold path, which dictate that the behavior being alleged is an abomination. The martial arts are more than just a fighting system they are a philosophy as well, and a philosophy that Sensei Maisenhelder has followed the better part of his life, as a practitioner and a teacher. Thus, I do not believe him capable of what is being alleged.


I used this man years ago as a marriage counselor and as a counselor for my son. He was the utmost in professionalism. I truly hope these accusations are just that...accusations and that there is no proof. I would never have expected this out of him.

You People Need to Get Real!

Child molesters are exactly the people you wouldn't expect: teachers, pastors, priests, and even karate instructors. They gain the trust of a child and abuse that trust in the most horrible way. No matter how long you've known someone, you can never know what that person does privately nor can you ever know that he is a child molester. Who would suspect the corner priest? Or the nice teacher? No one. And that's precisely the modus operandi of the child molester. Of course, one is innocent until proven otherwise, but whether a man is a pastor, a good Christian or a good teacher or mentor does not mean he cannot be a child molester. Of all the comments made here, no one has even mentioned ONE prayer or kind thought on behalf of the alleged victims who, if they are indeed telling the truth, will be scarred FOR LIFE by a person they trusted.


This man has been my neighbor and family friend for over 10 years. When my father passed this man was always there for my family and I. I would go over to his house all the time and play with his daughter and my brother. He would have us over every fourth of July to shoot off fireworks and make homemade ice cream. He is a great man and these accusations are terrible. Not only was he there when my father passed, he personally showed up at the hospital when I was sick and I didn't even know he was coming. Thats the type of man he is. Always caring and one of the nicest people i've known.

I do not know this man....

Have never met him. However, suppose these allegations are wrong. We have had two other such cases here in the last couple of years. Both were non-prosocuteable. If these charges are wrong- where does he go to get his reputation back?


I agree completely. ive known sensei for 11 years now, and he has influenced me throughout my life. I personally do not believe any of the charges being put upon him and that this entire situation is rediculous. John Maisenhelder is my sensei, and i would stick with him no matter what. I am not blind to the fact that he did have a million dollar bond, but i do believe that things can be misunderstood when it comes to matters such as these. People are always too quick to judge and not to think. Personally, i do not believe that little children should be put on the spot and questioned in matters such as these. kids want attention and will give whatever information (whether true or false) to receive that attention. And finally, Shihan John Maisenhelder is not to be charged just yet of a criminal. Until there is out in the open, dead on proof; no one should be assuming that he is another tipical, everyday, "child molester." He is a good man with a respectable family in the community who has tributed so much to so many people that it is extremely wrong that anyone should criticize him. Thank you.

Having known this person for

Having known this person for almost two years I'll say this: When I receive irrefutible proof I'll believe it. Until then, I, like so many other people simply cannot believe it. I consider myself to be a very good judge of character & this whole thing does not fit John's character AT ALL. My heart & prayers go out to his entire family.

You never know...

although this is a horrible situation...i can say I've known a person for all their life & they could turn out to be a thief, a rapist, a may not fit their "character" but, sometimes it is a possibility of things that are not always what they seem....

I have known him for 6 years

I have known him for 6 years and consider him a friend, advisor and mentor. I do not believe that he is capable of what he is charged with and anyone who says he is must be nuts.

We are all deeply saddened

We are all deeply saddened and shocked at the allegations that have been levied against John Maisenhelder. In this country, people are innocent until proven guilty. How sad a commentary when people are tried in the court of public media before they are tried in a court of justice. Contrary to the headline, John Maisenhelder is not a pastor at Southside Baptist Church nor is he on staff of the church nor has he ever been on staff of the church. Before opening CAST ten years ago, he was a pastor but the headline leads readers to believe he is currently a pastor at the church. He is not. He has no responsibilities with children at the church. It is regretful that the media resorts to such ploys to twist the facts in order to boost ratings or sensationalize a story. Anyone can be accused of anything. We love the Maisenhelder family and we stand with them during this difficult time. We believe in his innocence. We request that WWAY not mislead its readers with the truth because WWAY's integrity is on the line as well when it comes to reporting the news. We are not opposed to WWAY reporting the news, but we simply ask them to report the facts accurately, not misleadingly.

John Maisenhelder

I am the parent of one of Sensei Maisenhelders students, and I read the coverage you have given this story with disbelief. I know Sensei to be a caring and loving man. A man who cares about the students in his dojo and is sensitive to the needs of all his students, no matter their abilities. I am fully aware that there are sex offenders in the world who prey on children and I believe that those people should be removed from society so they can no longer hurt innocent children. I also believe that people are innocent until proven guilty. What chance does this man have to defend himself against these allegations (and that is just what they are this time) when you put him on the front of your website? I know you will say you are just reporting the news but what will happen when these accusations are proven false? Aren't we all still innocent until proven guilty? You don't report the names of the victims of sex crimes and I think that is the correct thing to do but please for the sake of this mans family, friends and supporters (of which there will me many) and for the sake of other men show caution, good judgement. Will you report that on the front ofyour website? I hope so but I fear not.

pray for john and his family

i have been knowing john for years, he is a good man and will do anything to help people. this really hurts, because of things like this have mess john up. john want every do anything like this, and it dont take but one person can do this. i do not believe this and i feel that someone was mad a john and they wanted to hurt him and they did. god knows the truth and my prays are with john and his wonderful wife. hang in there god will help you. bj

Not a church employee...The

Not a church employee...The first quote is misleading. Mr. Maisenhelder is not employed by that church, but only attends there.